May 2020

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 22, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 21,618 positive cases for COVID-19 and 728 deaths from COVID-19 in all 100 counties (up from 17,129 cases and 641 deaths in 99 counties last week). Click here to access the DHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

This Week at the Legislature

Both the House and Senate returned to somewhat of a normal week at the legislature. Committee meetings and voting sessions were held, and although it was the last week for meetings of the House Select Committee on COVID-19, working groups did not meet. Senate Leader Phil Berger announced that he plans for the Senate to be in session no longer than four to six weeks but is aware that the coronavirus could change those plans.

Despite the current circumstances, the NCSBA Governmental Relations team is still monitoring committee action, tracking education-related bills, and maintaining contact with legislators, as well as SBE staff and the Governor’s education team. Additionally, the GR team has been closely watching SB 719: Retirement Protection Act to ensure that changes to rule making are not retroactive.

On Monday, May 18 House Speaker Tim Moore expressed his interest in considering a bond referendum that would fund K-12 construction. This announcement follows the filing of HB 1088: Invest in NC Bond Act of 2020 last week, which the Speaker stated he was previously not aware of. Also this week, NCSBA initiated a meeting with school capital coalition partners.

On Tuesday, May 19 the House and Senate passed a joint resolution extending the bill filing deadline for budget-related bills to 4:00 pm on Tuesday, May 26. Senator Berger announced in a press conference that he expects budget losses to be as high as $4 billion due to lack of tax revenues. Legislative staff and the state budget office are expected to release consensus revenue numbers later today.

One bill to note that was filed this week that could affect districts’ budgets for the upcoming fiscal year is SB 809: Salary-Related Contrib/Debt Service Funds, which increases the State’s employer contribution rates budgeted for retirement for teachers and State employees from 14.36% to 14.78%.

The following education-related bills were introduced this week:

HB 1153: Iredell-Statesville Bd. of Ed/Election Method

SB 793: Expand Local Option Sales Tax for Education (HB 1113)

SB 794: Nash Bd. of Ed. Name Change

SB 800: Law Enforcement & Teacher Protection Act

SB 809: Salary-Related Contrib/Debt Service Funds

SB 818: Funds to DPI for ADM Growth

SB 819: Authorize Teacher-Gov’t Em’pee Housing/Bertie (SB 8)

The following education-related bills had legislative action this week:

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes – passed the House and placed on the Senate calendar for Tuesday, May 26

SB 719: Retirement Protection Act – approved by the Senate Pensions and Retirement and Aging Committee and referred to the Senate Rules Committee

 

State Board of Education Meeting – May 21

The State Board of Education met for a called meeting on Thursday, May 21. Board members addressed the following:

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced to the Board that LEAs will be able to choose which K-3 reading diagnostic tool they would like to use for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. Superintendent Johnson stated that DPI is preparing a list of reading diagnostic tools and an allotment policy to be brought before the Board for approval.

Remote Instruction Plan: The Board approved a new SBE policy requiring LEAs and charter schools to develop and submit a Remote Instruction Plan (RI Plan) for the 2020-21 school year no later than July 20, 2020. This policy is in response to SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3). The original policy includes 13 components for response, but Board members voted to add an additional component concerning response to needs of English learners, Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted (AIG) learners, and students identified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act. Per request of school districts, Board members also voted to include a component allowing districts to describe limitations preventing implementation of quality remote learning. The policy and RI Plan will be presented to school districts through a webinar on June 2.

Teacher licensure, evaluation, and education policy: Dr. Tomberlin, DPI Director of Educator Recruitment and Support, presented SBE policy revisions, including requirements for EPP admissions, clinical internships, and school administration prep programs. The revisions come from SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3). Dr. Tomberlin noted a few considerations for the Board, including potential issues for current Emergency License holders seeking a Residential License. Although EPP admissions requirements have been waived by state statute, many EPPs have not waived requirements because of the impact on accreditation. Dr. Tomberlin stated that DPI currently does not have a solution for mandating EPPs to accept candidates. Click here for a full list of policy revisions.

Board members approved one revision to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy Manual. Section 16.3 was revised to align with Section 4.23(a) of SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-3), which reduces the waiting period from six months to one month for TSERS retirees who retired on or after October 10, 2019 but before April 1, 2020 to return to work. DPI staff clarified that public schools wishing to utilize this exception should contact the NC Retirement System, not DPI.

The SBE approved an extension to the State of Emergency Leave policy until June 15, 2020. An additional revision was made to the policy to clarify that school district employees whose work calendars end before June 15 are not entitled to emergency leave for days that they were not expected to work.

The Board approved provisions and allotments for the distribution of the $75 million in CARES Act funds allocated to school nutrition through HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act (SL 2020-4). Dr. Lynn Harvey, DPI Director of School Nutrition and District Operations, stated that the USDA has confirmed the SBE’s use of the federal funds for meal distribution to students.

Board members approved policy and allotment amendments regarding use of federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds authorized by the CARES Act. Newly opened and significantly expanded charter schools are now eligible for a portion of funds.

Click here for all meeting materials.

 

Governor’s Press Releases

 

May 26-29 Legislative Meeting Calendar

Tuesday, May 26

2:00 pm – Senate: Commerce and Insurance – Legislative Offices Building, rm 643 (audio)

3:00 pm – House: State and Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (audio)

 

Wednesday, May 26

11:00 am – Senate: Education/Higher Education – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (audio)

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – May 22, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 15, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 17,129 positive cases for COVID-19 and 641 deaths from COVID-19 in 99 counties (up from 13,868 cases and 527 deaths last week). Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

This Week at the Legislature

Several interim study committees met this week, including the Working Groups of the House Select Committee on COVID-19. Session will reconvene on Monday, May 18, as House and Senate members have been in their home districts for the past two weeks.

Thursday, May 14 was the filing deadline for non-local bills for the 2020 short session. For a list of education-related bills that were filed, see the “Education Bills” section below.

House Select Committee on COVID-19, Education Working Group

The Education Working Group met on Thursday, May 14. The agenda consisted of presentations on public health considerations on reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year, school nutrition, and school connectivity and the homework gap.

Public Health Considerations on Reopening Schools – Dr. David Stegall, DPI Deputy Superintendent of Innovation, Dr. Beverly Emory, DPI Deputy Superintendent of District Support, and Susan Gale Perry, DHHS Chief Deputy Secretary, presented the following:

  • A draft of a high-level framework to reopen schools – the framework is a collaboration of stakeholders, DPI and DHHS work groups, and the Governor’s office (see slide 2)
  • Four approaches needed to reopen schools
    1. Increase social distancing, including:
      • Place desks six feet apart
      • Reduce class size
      • Stagger school hours or alternate days/weeks for students
      • Eat meals in classrooms
      • Limit group activities
    2. Implement hygiene protocols, including:
      • Minimize use of shared supplies
      • Incorporate handwashing breaks
      • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting
      • Recommend cloth face coverings
    3. Monitor staff and student health, including:
      • Daily symptom screening at school entrance
      • Accommodate high-risk staff
      • Have plans for removing sick students
      • Ensure access to school nurse services
      • Appropriate PPE for school nurses/health personnel
    4. Provide education, including:
      • Post signage for reminders of physical distancing
      • Communicate with families
      • Train staff on COVID-19 strategies

The CDC has also released guidance on reopening schools. Click here and here for these additional resources.

School Nutrition Operations – Dr. Lynn Harvey, DPI Director of School Nutrition and District Operations, presented the following:

  • DPI is currently operating under 21 federal waivers from the USDA
  • Additional funding is needed to continue the current meal program that transports meals to students using school buses – elimination of school buses will reduce meals from roughly 500,000/day to 125,000-150,000/day
  • DPI is seeking a state appropriation to cover the $7.6 million/week budget shortfall to continue providing the current expanded meal program through the summer – the goal is to not transition to the summer meal program, citing the congregate setting as a primary reason
  • Currently 75 of the 115 school districts are providing pay incentives to essential school nutrition personnel
  • DPI is proposing that the $75 million in federal funds allotted through HB 1043 be based on the same proportion of funds as if districts were reimbursed by school meal receipts and federal funds – SBE will consider the allotment at its meeting on Thursday, May 21
    • Working Group chairs requested a follow up about the SBE decision on the allotment and allotment policy

School Connectivity and the Homework Gap – Jeff Sural, Department of Information Technology (DIT) Director of Broadband Infrastructure Office, presented the following:

  • DIT and the Friday Institute have created a survey tool in hopes of identifying every household in the state who does not have connectivity
  • DIT is providing support and guidance to LEAs and DPI on convenience contracts and how to negotiate prices for cell service, hot spots, tablets, laptops, etc.
  • To date, there have been 180 wifi rangers for buses delivered to 36 counties
  • Representatives Corbin (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon) and Hanig (Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico) emphasized their ongoing concern that remote learning is not feasible in their districts because of lack of broadband access and support

 

Sales Tax Bill

On Wednesday, May 13 the Revenue Laws Study Committee approved a bill for introduction in the 2020 Short Session entitled “Various Sales Tax Changes”. Part III of the bill affects K-12 education as follows (from bill summary by legislative attorney Trina Griffin):

  • Clarifies that the delivery of instruction or training by a public or private K-12 school to an enrolled student or as part of vocational training, regardless of whether it is conducted online in a live or pre-recorded format, is a nontaxable “educational service” and is not the sale of digital property.
  • Exempts sales of audio works or audiovisual works to operators of home schools if the work is a qualifying educational expense under G.S. 115C-595(a)(3).
  • Exempts sales of digital audio works or digital audiovisual works that consist of nontaxable service content when the transfer occurs contemporaneously and in real-time with the provision of the nontaxable service. Examples would include an exercise class, a music lesson, or a financial planning seminar live streamed via Zoom. However, pre-recorded or on-demand webinars would be taxable like any other video.
  • This bill is effective retroactively to October 1, 2019.

The bill was filed as SB 718 by Senator Newton, R-Cabarrus on May 13 and as HB 1079 by Representatives Howard, R-Davie; Ross, R-Alamance; Setzer, R-Catawba; and Szoka, R-Cumberland on May 14.

 

Education Bills

HB 1046: COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

HB 1047: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students (SB 706)

HB 1050: PED/Low-Performing School Districts (SB 725)

HB 1056: WC/COVID-19/Cover Essential Workers

HB 1057: WC/COVID-19 Front Line Coverage/Funds

HB 1069: Retirement Technical Corrections Act of 2020

HB 1071: State/Federal Funds for School Connectivity

HB 1074: Omitted Membership Service/TSERS/LGERS

HB 1079: Various Sales Tax Changes (SB 718)

HB 1084: Bob Jordan Teaching Fellows Restoration Act

HB 1085: Front Line State Employee Hazard Pay/Funds (SB 740)

HB 1088: Invest NC Bond Act of 2020

HB 1105: COVID/Supplementary G.R.E.A.T. Grant Period

HB 1113: Expand Local Option Sales Tax for Education

HB 1116: Enhancing Accessibility to Teacher Prof. Dev.

HB 1122: Provide Affordable Broadband Access to NC

HB 1123: Study of Retention of K-12 Teachers

HB 1126: Enabling Opportunity Scholarship Reporting

HB 1129: Ensure a Sound Basic Education 

HB 1130: Invest in a Sound Basic Education

HB 1131: Teacher Pipeline Development

HB 1132: Study on K-12 Student Retention

HB 1139: Local Boards of Education Budget Flexibility

HB 1146: Prof. Teachers & Admins. Accountability Act

HB 1148: Restore Master’s Pay for Certain Teachers

SB 706: Educ. Changes for Military-Connected Students (HB 1047)

SB 711: Eligibility Changes for Opp Scholarships

SB 718: Various Sales Tax Changes (HB 1079)

SB 724: PED Oversight/EPP Changes (HB 107)

SB 725: PED/Low-Performing School Districts (HB 1050)

SB 740: Front Line State Employee Hazard Pay/Funds (HB 1085)

SB 747: $15/Hour Min. Pay for Noncert. Sch. Employees

SB 749: RO Filling Stations for New Hanover Schools

SB 764: CTE Pilot for Guilford Co. Schools

SB 765: Education Omnibus

SB 766: Rebuild a Better NC Bond Act

SB 769: Municipal Broadband Expansion

SB 771: Restore Educational Sales Tax Holiday

SB 787: Restores Master’s Pay for Teachers

SB 791: Funds for NC Pre-K

 

Governor’s Press Releases

  • On Thursday, May 14 Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina’s key COVID-19 indicators prove that the state remains stable after transitioning into Phase 1 last Friday.

 

From NSBA – HEROES Act

On Tuesday, May 12 the House introduced HR 6800: Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which would provide the following:

  • $58 billion for K-12 education distributed to LEAs based on the Title I formula
  • $5 billion authorized for the E-Rate program, but only $1.5 billion appropriated

HR 6800 addresses non-binding guidance that would have required LEAs to determine the amount of CARES Act funds spent on private school students based on total enrollments. NSBA sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos explaining how this guidance disregards the requirement that CARES Act funds, specifically Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, are allocated to LEAs based on Title I funding for the most recent fiscal year. HR 6800 changes the allocation for private school students to be based on Title I funding and includes language intended to prevent the Secretary from altering future allocation guidance.

Before the introduction of HR 6800, NSBA had requested $200 billion for K-12 education:

  • $175 billion to the states
  • $13 billion to IDEA
  • $12 billion to Title I

Additionally, NSBA had requested $4 billion in E-Rate funding.

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – May 15, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 8, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 13,868 positive cases for COVID-19 in 99 counties, and 527 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

This Week at the Legislature

On Monday, May 4 the NCSBA Governmental Relations team released a summary of the K-12 education sections of the COVID-19 session laws. Click here to access the summary.

Both the House and Senate did not hold sessions or committee meetings this week. The Education Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 is scheduled to virtually meet next Thursday, May 14 at 2:00 pm.

Workers’ Compensation Bills Filed

Several bills have been filed in the General Assembly addressing COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation. NCSBA wants to call one of these bills to your attention.

HB 1057: WC/COVID-19 Front Line Coverage/Funds sponsored by Representatives Jackson (D-Wake), Boles (R-Moore), Setzer (R-Catawba), and R. Smith (D-Wayne) includes, unlike the other bills filed, extending workers’ compensation coverage to employees required to work during a pandemic for a business declared essential by executive order of the Governor or by order of a local governmental authority, including food service, retail, and other essential personnel. The Governor’s executive order includes K-12 public schools as an essential business for purposes of facilitating remote learning.

The bill adds pandemics to the list of reasons a worker can make a claim for workers’ compensation and places the burden of proof on the employer to demonstrate that the employee did not contract the associated disease while working. Specifically, the bill states that a “pandemic infection contracted by a covered person shall be presumed to be due to exposure in the course of the covered person’s employment.” The bill defines a covered person as “an employee required to work during a pandemic for a business declared essential by executive order of the Governor…”

While NCSBA is extremely supportive of all the efforts of school employees during this time,  this would create a very difficult if not impossible standard for school districts to deal with since COVID-19 is a virus that can be contracted in numerous ways and not necessarily while working. There is already coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Act that provides a fair opportunity for an employee diagnosed with COVID-19 to make a claim for benefits. It states that diseases shall be deemed to be an occupational disease “which is proven to be due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation or employment…” Meaning, the employee just has to prove that it’s more likely than not that COVID-19 was contracted at work. Shifting the burden of proof on these claims to the employer will create additional and substantial costs to school districts, either paying the claims directly for those who are self-insured, paying an increased number of deductibles, and/or increased coverage premiums, if coverage is attainable.

NCSBA sent an email to the bill sponsors yesterday and will be sending a similar email to all members of the General Assembly no later than Monday. There is also a coalition of primarily business interests that has formed to work on this issue, which NCSBA has joined.

NCSBA School Technology Video Campaign

Please continue to support NCSBA’s efforts as we work with state leaders to produce a multi-year payment plan for school technology. Click here to access our two videos highlighting the current need for school technology and the General Assembly’s responsibility in addressing the issue.

 

State Board of Education Meeting – May 6 & 7

The State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting this week. Board members addressed the following:

  • Changes to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy Manual
  • 2019-20 high school senior grading/graduation policies
  • CARES Act funding

The Board approved revisions made to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy Manual. Click here to view the changes, which affect sick leave, teacher contracts, earnings cap, and rehiring high-need teachers.

Board discussion centered around the possibility of reversing previous Board action that implemented a pass/withdrawal grading system for seniors’ spring course grades, which differs from students in grades 9-11 who have the option of choosing to receive a numeric grade or a pass/withdrawal grade. DPI staff stated that their initial goals with this policy were to focus on students’ graduation from a statewide perspective and support the mental health of graduating seniors. Pushback came from Board members who supported giving students the option to receive a numeric grade or a pass/withdrawal grade for their spring courses. Other members and advisors expressed concern that this change might place a burden on school districts, teachers who have not been maintaining numeric grades, and students who have graduated early. The Board ultimately voted to maintain the current policy.

The Board approved policy amendments regarding the use of federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. ESSER fund allocations are made to school districts, charter, lab, regional, and innovative schools based on Title I, Part A funds received in the most recent fiscal year. Click here to see the estimated minimum allotments.

Click here for all meeting materials.

 

Following last week’s release of an audit of DPI’s handling of federal grants, State Auditor Beth Wood stated that DPI will have to repay $18 million in federal money. Click here to access an article about the $18 million mistake.

 

Governor’s Press Releases

  • On May 6
    • Governor Cooper announced appointments to the DRIVE Task Force, which focuses on matters of equity and inclusion within education. NC State Board of Education member and Hertford County school board member Wendell Hall, who also serves on both the NCSBA and NCSBAC Board of Directors, was appointed to the Task Force.
    • Governor Cooper reported that additional school busses will be used to provide internet access to students in underserved areas as they continue to participate in online school.
  • On May 5 Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 138, which modifies the stay at home order and makes Phase 1 of easing COVID-19 restrictions effective Friday, May 8 at 5:00 pm.
  • On May 4
  • On May 2 Governor Cooper shared a statement applauding the legislature’s passage of COVID-19 relief bills.

 

  

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – May 8, 2020
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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 1, 2020

The Fight Against the Coronavirus

NCDHHS has reported 10,923 positive cases for COVID-19 in 98 counties, and 399 deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Click here to access the NCDHHS webpage that keeps North Carolinians updated on the state’s response to the coronavirus. Additionally, NCSBA has been updating its webpage containing information and resources about the coronavirus.

 

This Week at the Legislature

The General Assembly convened on Tuesday, April 28 for the 2020 legislative short session. Both chambers passed bills in response to the coronavirus, HB 1043: Pandemic Response Act and SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act. House Speaker Tim Moore announced during today’s House session that House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on all money items, which will total close to $1.6 billion, but policy items are still being reconciled. One of the big bones of contention is over Medicaid expansion. Speaker Moore anticipates the approval COVID-19 legislation on Saturday, May 2. He also stated that, following legislation approval, the House will go home to work remotely for a few weeks.

House Bill 1043: Pandemic Response Act

  • Primary Sponsors: Representatives Bell, R-Wayne; Jackson, D-Wake; Lewis, R-Harnett
  • $1.7 billion
  • $291.7 million for K-12 schools

Senate Bill 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act

 

Policy items included in HB 1043, but not in SB 704:

  • SBE required to report recommendations for alternative interventions to summer instruction for at-risk students and students recommended for additional support (pg. 9)
  • Budget flexibility for local boards of education to transfer funds from one allotment category to another within certain limitations for the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 fiscal years (pgs. 14-15)
  • Delay K-3 class size reduction/adjust program enhancement teacher allotment funding (pgs. 15-16)
  • Allows unexpended funds for drivers education from the 2019-20 fiscal year to remain available until the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year (pg. 69)
  • Temporarily removes barriers to allow retirees of TSERS to return to work on a part-time, temporary, or interim basis during state of emergency related to COVID-19 (pgs. 77-78)

Click here for a chart comparison of K-12 education components of both bills.

 

State Board of Education Meeting – April 30

The State Board of Education met in a called meeting on Thursday, April 30. Board members addressed the following:

Board members approved additional emergency sick leave for public school employees, which was initially presented at the March 27 meeting. The approval extends the policy through May 31, 2020. It was noted that the policy may be readdressed in future weeks. Without adding additional changes to the policy, some Board members requested that DPI strongly encourage LEAs to provide remote working opportunities for noncertified employees.

Board members reviewed DPI’s completed certification and agreement for funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. It appears that disbursements will be based on 2019-20 Title I allocations. The SBE will take action on approving this item at its monthly meeting next week.

Board members were presented with an update on the State’s K-3 literacy diagnostic. The Board was told that the most recent contract with Istation, which maintains all collected data but does not gather new data for the next three months, remains in effect, but the three-year Istation contract that was signed last year has been terminated. The Superintendent stated that DPI will be working closely with the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and plans to establish a new contract before the start of the 2020-21 school year, per Read to Achieve requirements. Following the update, a testy exchange occurred between Board members and the Superintendent about the process, timeline, and panel members. The Superintendent acknowledged the questions and stated that his team is still in the initial steps of the process.

Board members approved a response letter to an audit by the NC State Auditor that was released on Wednesday. Findings include:

  • Fiscal monitoring results not communicated timely
  • Inadequate award communication
  • Ineffective monitoring of several federal programs including Title I spending
  • Errors in reported state per pupil expenditures

Click here to read more about the findings and DPI’s response to the findings. The SBE’s response letter states that it plans to support and monitor DPI’s efforts in improvement, noting the DPI has “many outstanding employees who provide great service…in supporting the education of our children.” The late addition of the letter to the SBE agenda led to heated remarks from the Superintendent to the Board.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced the creation of the Schools Reopening Task Force (SRTF). The Superintendent stated that all action so far has been reactive to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the goal of SRTF is to be proactive. We would like to note that Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools board member Dana Caudill Jones is a member of the task force.

Click here for all meeting materials.

Click here for more coverage of the meeting and exchanges between Board members.

 

Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group

The Governor’s Education and Nutrition Working Group met on Thursday, April 30. The following was presented.

Goals for Reopening Schools

  • Increase social distancing
  • Implement hygiene protocols
  • Monitor workforce and student health
  • Protect vulnerable populations
  • Provide education to build awareness and combat misinformation

Click here for more on the draft plan for reopening schools. DPI and DHHS are requesting feedback on these preliminary goals, which can be sent to David Stegall at david.stegall@dpi.nc.gov. There is not a hard deadline for feedback, but the Working Group will be meeting again on Thursday, May 14.

Hope4Healers (919-226-2002) Updates

  • Helpline expanded to childcare staff, in addition to health care professionals, first responders, etc.
  • Equipped with 24/7 call line support, allowing callers to speak to a live person
  • Partnership with NC Psychological Foundation

Access to Internet

  • Received $75,000 in donations to purchase up to 280 Wi-Fi hotspots for buses to help bring Wi-Fi to communities in need – from AT&T, Duke Energy, and Google
  • Districts to receive these hotspots were identified and have been notified this week by Regional Case Managers

 

Governor’s Press Releases

 

U.S. Secretary of Education Report on IDEA Waiver Authority

On Monday, April 27 U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a recommended waiver report under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. NSBA reported that the Secretary did not recommend Congress to pass additional waiver authority concerning the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). NSBA sent the Secretary a letter describing the challenges school districts are experiencing in providing FAPE to children with disabilities pursuant to IDEA, which were not addressed in her recommended waiver report. NSBA stated that it is committed to working with Congress to provide temporary flexibility and additional funding for IDEA in the wake of this pandemic.

 

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – May 1, 2020
read more